Safety in focus as auto-rickshaw regulations tightened in Dimapur
DIMAPUR — In an effort to enhance safety and transparency for auto-rickshaw commuters and traffic police personnel in Dimapur, Chümoukedima, and Niuland districts, the Dimapur Police introduced the Auto Rickshaw Display Card System on Dec. 16.
This initiative is a repeat of a system that was previously implemented a few years ago, but faced non-compliance from drivers and owners, as well as a lack of enforcement by the Dimapur Traffic police and the Dimapur District Auto Drivers Union (DDADU).
Not deterred by the lukewarm response it received earlier, in Oct. 2023, Dimapur Police directed all auto-rickshaw owners and drivers in the three districts to visit the office of the DCP (Traffic) Dimapur for the processing and issuance of auto-rickshaw identification display cards. These cards were to be mandatorily affixed to the auto-rickshaws, with the deadline for obtaining them set for Nov. 30.
Main objective behind the ID card display
Despite tepid response to the Auto Rickshaw Display Card System in the past, the commissioner of police, Dimapur, emphasised the initiative’s significance during its relaunch on Dec. 16.
He asserted that the system’s objectives encompass “effective management and regulation of auto-rickshaws, crime prevention and detection, passenger safety, detection of stolen or improperly documented autos, and monitoring of unauthorised for-hire services.”
The CP directed auto-rickshaw owners and drivers to prominently display the cards on the windshield and rear of their vehicles by Feb. 29, 2024, with a warning that that permits for operation in Dimapur, Chümoukedima, and Niuland districts would not be granted to those who fail to comply.
“It would help the traffic personnel manage and regulate auto-rickshaws more effectively, enhance passenger safety, particularly women and the elderly, detect crimes including stolen three-wheelers, and prevent unauthorised hiring by private auto-rickshaws,” the CP said at that time.
President of DDADU, Tito Yepthomi, told Eastern Mirror that the decision to reintroduce the system was taken after a series of meetings with the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) Dimapur and the Dimapur Traffic Police. He emphasised that the system aims to enhance public safety and the well-being of auto drivers, addressing concerns about missing reports of goods, vehicles, and even individuals.
“The display card system for auto-rickshaws is for the safety of the public and the auto drivers,” he maintained, reminding that there have been ‘missing reports’ of goods, vehicles as well as humans.
Yepthomi asserted that implementing the display card system would reduce such missing reports, benefitting both the public and vehicle owners by enabling them to track their vehicles.
While acknowledging the challenges of compliance, he appealed to auto drivers and owners to cooperate with the initiative. “I understand that it will not be easy in initially to comply with the rules and regulations, documentation process. There may be drivers and owner of the vehicle whose vehicle insurance validity is over, invalid documents but the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) has given a grace period till Feb.29, 2024, to complete valid documentation of the vehicle papers which is free of charges,” he added.
Many auto-rickshaws plying illegally
Additionally, Yepthomi raised concerns about numerous autos illegally operating in Nagaland, especially from Dillai Gate, Lahorijan, without valid documents. He said that these illegal auto drivers enter the state, potentially committing crimes without traceability.
The introduction of the Auto Rickshaw Display Card System will discourage such practices and enhance the safety of the public, the drivers as well as vehicle owners.
Yepthomi disclosed that there are over 5000 registered auto-rickshaws in Dimapur and Chümoukedima, but a significant number of Nagas do not register with DDADU, and thus, lack the required uniform and ID card. He urged Naga auto-rickshaw drivers and owners to register and comply with the new initiative.
“In order to avoid misunderstanding between the police and the drivers, the owners of the vehicle should have valid documents,” he said while appealing the drivers and the owners to possess valid documents including the Union ID card, driving license, auto insurance, auto owner’s PRC, three passport photos, phone numbers of both drivers and owners, and the registration certificate.
Unlike the past where the Auto Rickshaw Display Card System was not put into practice and failed, this time the initiative will be executed stringently, he added.
During the launching of the auto rickshaw display card system, the CP had informed that the display card would be valid for only two years, after which renewal is required. All records will be stored digitally and regularly updated at the Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Dimapur.
Meter system not possible in Nagaland
On the matter of introducing meter system for auto-rickshaws in Nagaland, the DDADU president acknowledged that it is not feasible in Nagaland because of “the attitude of the people in vandalising public property.”
He noted that previous attempts by his predecessors to implement a meter system were thwarted by reports of miscreants damaging the auto-rickshaw meters. While expressing his own efforts to introduce a meter system, Yepthomi emphasised that government-led implementation would be more effective.
“I am also trying to introduce the meter system but if the government implements the metered system policy will be better. Slowly we will upgrade whatever is necessary for the safety and convenience of the people but it is not easy for the metered system to be implemented in Nagaland,” he maintained.